FAMILY finances in east Durham are at breaking point as post-Christmas blues take effect, according to a leading money advice charity.

East Durham Trust says its caseworkers are managing 23 cases of personal debt, while about 50 families and individuals are currently being supported by the charity.

The Peterlee-based charity which is part of Community Money Advice’s national network of advice centres where trained debt advisers offer free, confidential, face-to-face advice and support to help people find relief from debt and financial hardship.

Statistics indicate large numbers of people are struggling with debt and money pressures, placing a strain upon family budgets, at a time of year when financial pressures are at their greatest.

The charity will feature on the BBC’s Inside Out programme which will focus on consumer debt problems tonight at 7.30pm on BBC 1.

Recent statistics from the Bank of England show unsecured consumer debt has increased by 19 per cent in the past five years and currently stands at £201.5bn.

Household debt has been growing much faster than household income and the Office for Budget Responsibility predicts unsecured household debt will reach 47 per cent of income by 2021. Total consumer debt including mortgages is now over £1.5 trillion.

East Durham Trust chief executive Malcolm Fallow said: “In the last year East Durham Trust has helped over 100 families or individuals struggling with debt and financial problems.

“Family budgets are often extremely tight and it is very easy to find debts spiral out of control, particularly when family circumstances change.

“Our trained advisors offer free, confidential face-to-face advice. Those struggling from debt tell us of the relief they find from talking with an advisor who can help them start to resolve the problems.”

Heather Keates, chief executive of Community Money Advice, said:

“It is concerning to see consumer debts at record levels at a time of year when families often face their greatest financial pressures.

“Every day in Community Money Advice centres, caseworkers see firsthand the distress financial worries place upon individuals and families.

“The Christmas and New Year holidays should bring families together however so often money worries can drive families apart.”

  • Anyone who is experiencing stress from money problems is advised to seek professional help. For more information visit